Electricity monitor breaks down power usage

Business owners in the Ottawa Valley are testing a power-saving technology that promises relief from escalating hydro rates.

The electricity monitor, which is developed by Almonte, Ont.-based Triacta Power Technologies, surveys

each circuit of a business, allowing customers to get a real-time breakdown of their power usage. Users log on to a Web site, enter a password, and receive an instant update of their hydro consumption.

John Bergeron, owner and operator of six McDonald’s restaurants in the Ottawa Valley, said he is excited about the diagnostic information the device is capable of delivering. Less than a month ago, he installed it in one of his restaurants.

“”All the data was customized to my restaurant, from outdoor lighting to kitchen equipment, to heating and air conditioning,”” he said, adding the device takes an inventory of usage and tallies everything up, presenting it to the user in a chart.

“”You’re able to isolate what it costs you to run a muffin toaster for a day. You’re also able to look at a chart that shows any spikes in usage (and when they occur).””

Certain appliances may be on timers that aren’t shutting on and off efficiently, he added. So if something isn’t working at capacity and needs preventative maintenance, “”then you’re able to get your information quickly, so you can handle the problem quickly””.

“”That’s huge,”” said Bergeron, who now plans to go over the costs of the device with Triacta.

Any information on business operations is of extreme value, he added. Data on power usage is especially important since utility costs top the list of operating expenditures, he said, adding such costs come to roughly $250,000 a year for all six of his restaurants.

The device’s diagnostic ability has already paid off for Almonte-based Bread and Butter Bakery and Fine Foods. Since it was installed about six weeks ago, the owners discovered one of their ovens is defective and they have already made changes to reduce their power costs. Ottawa River Power Corp. has also tested the product. Initial trial results show savings can range between 10 to 30 per cent.

“”We’re seeing anywhere from $100 to $200 per month in savings,”” said Rob Brennan, CEO of Triacta. “”And that kind of bottom line number can be the difference between profit or loss.””

Triacta, which officially launched earlier this week, has been working on the solution for over two years and has been in trials for several months. “”Given the lack of supply (of power), and the fact that we’re decommissioning coal plants, we knew (rising electricity rates) was coming at some point,”” Brennan said.

His comments come as Ontario Energy Minister Dwight Duncan told a Toronto audience Thursday that the province will get a new power authority to manage the province’s electricity supply, while consumers will get a new rate plan that will reflect the true cost of electricity.

Earlier this month, the Ontario Energy Board Amendment Act went into effect, increasing the hydro rate from 4.3 to 4.7 cents per kilowatt hour for commercial users.

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